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COULSON KERNAHAN 




Class 

Book_ 

Copyright 'N?._ 



COROUGHT DEPOStt 



SPIRITUALISM 



SPIRITUALISM 

A Personal Experience 
and a Warning 



By 
COULSON KERNAHAN 

Author of "More Than This World Dreams Of," 
"God and the Ant" etc. 




New York Chicago 

Fleming H. Revell Company 

London and Edinburgh 



Copyright, 1920, by 
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 






New York: 158 Fifth Avenue 
Chicago 1 : 17 North Wabash Ave. 
London : 2 1 Paternoster Square 
Edinburgh: 75 Princes Street 






©CI.A576674 



Contents 

I. Spiritual Housebreaking . . 7 

II. A Personal Experience . . 16 

III. Some Comments on My First 

Stance 28 

IV. Telepathy 35 

V. The Barrenness of Spiritualism 42 

VI. Sin Begins in Want of Faith . 49 

VII. A Will o' the Wisp 55 



5 



SPIRITUAL HOUSEBREAKING 

TV T Y belief is that God has, for wise and 
-***-■" loving reasons, locked the door which 
separates this life from the next; and I will 
give the reasons which have led me to form 
that opinion. 

I write not in the expectation of dissuading 
spiritualists from their beliefs and practices, 
for, as I shall show later, spiritualism seems to 
me something of an obsession. We are free 
to choose whether we will or will not have 
dealings with it. Once we decide to do so, 
we are, I believe, taking the first step towards 
an end which is uncommonly like the relin- 
quishment of our will power into other and 
unknown hands — always a very dangerous 
thing to do. We may or may not go farther, 



8 SPIKITUAL HOUSEBKEAKING 

but I believe that each repeated experience 
lessens the will power to resist, and that those 
who commit themselves to spiritualistic ex- 
periences are taking chances as dangerous as 
committing their bodies for a swim or a bathe 
into octopus-frequented waters; for spiritual- 
ism seems to retain its hold with almost 
octopus-like tenacity. That anything I may 
say in these pages will prevent confirmed 
spiritualists from going further in spiritual- 
istic matters, I have therefore small hope, but 
I do trust to dissuade others, especially the 
young, from tampering with things which 
seem to me both dangerous and opposed to the 
Will of God. 

Our Lord's words: "He that entereth not 
by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth 
up some other way, the same is a thief and a 
robber," are not, of course, to be applied 
directly to spiritualism, but in spirit, I cannot 
help thinking that they may have indirect 
bearing upon the matter we are considering. 



SPIEITUAL HOUSEBKEAKING 9 

If God, as I have said, has locked the door 
which separates this life from the next, — to 
attempt to pick the lock of that door seems 
to me not far removed from something like 
spiritual housebreaking. This is plain speak- 
ing, but when the sons and daughters of 
Christian homes, to say nothing of older folk, 
some of them professing Christians, are med- 
dling in matters which one believes to be for- 
bidden, plain speaking is necessary. 

In one of the ablest addresses upon spiri- 
tualism which I have ever seen, Sir Henry 
Lunn quotes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as say- 
ing: " Nearly every woman is an undeveloped 
medium, let her try her powers of automatic 
writing." Sir Henry Lunn's comment on 
this is as follows: "There can be nothing 
more pernicious for our nation than that sor- 
rowing women, instead of seeking in quiet 
waiting upon God for the comfort which He 
gave to the sorrowing sisters of Bethany, 
instead of resting upon the profound truth 



10 SPIKITUAL HOUSEBREAKING 

which He proclaimed to them, ' I am the 
Resurrection and the Life, he that believeth 
on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he 
live/ should seek by the wretched mechanism 
of planchettes and by automatic writing to 
penetrate the mysteries which God in His 
wisdom has veiled from humanity. This way 
lies madness." Could a wiser, and, — coming 
as it does from a medical man, — a more 
weighty warning word be spoken? 

Spiritualists assert that they are but seekers 
after knowledge, and that such quest is laud- 
able and legitimate. I cannot agree with a 
statement so unqualified. 

The Psychical Research Society, as I 
understand its aims, seeks only to investigate 
alleged cases of psychical phenomena. It 
formulates no creed, it pretends to no " reve- 
lation " : it does not, so far as I know, seek to 
supersede revealed religion. I do not happen 
to be a member, nor have I ever been, but 
against psychical research or the Society for 



SPIRITUAL HOUSEBREAKING 11 

that purpose, I have nothing whatever to say. 
Scientific research, there is nothing in God's 
Word to forbid. Science concerns itself with 
physical laws and facts: religion, with what is 
spiritual. The more we know of this wonder- 
ful and beautiful world and of the worlds and 
universes beyond, the nearer do we come to 
apprehending the infinite power and majesty 
of God. The deeper our insight into, the 
wider our knowledge of, the complex and 
manifold mysteries of human personality, the 
more truly can we serve our fellows (and 
thereby serve God) in their extremity. 

But to the Son of God Himself there was 
that into which He might not, and would not 
inquire. Even from Him, certain knowledge 
was withheld: " But of that day and of that 
hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels 
which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the 
Father" (Mark xiii. 32). The reference is 
to " the Son of man coming in the clouds, 
with great power and glory." Here is proof, 



12 SPIRITUAL HOUSEBREAKING 

definite and distinct beyond all question, that 
to the Founder of Christianity, Himself, it 
was not given to know all which is to be. 
As that day and hour were hidden from Him, 
as the day and the hour of our death are 
hidden from us, so I believe that the knowl- 
edge of the life which is to be, after death, 
has, for wise and good reasons, been withheld 
from us by God. 

Here is the first of my reasons for so be- 
lieving. 

In the matter of what is to happen 
after death, we are, as in life* in God's 
hand. 

He has decreed that what is to happen 
to-morrow or even to-day, we cannot with 
certainty foresee. If we could, it is possible 
that we should all become fatalists — automata 
in our own eyes and that there thus might be 
a slackening or even an end of human en- 
deavor. [Again: God might have proposed 
for our own good, here and hereafter, some 



SPIBITUAL HOUSEBKEAKING 13 

wise and loving chastisement. Foreseeing 
that chastisement, the more self-willed of us 
might seek to evade it, thus aligning ourselves 
with Satan and his hosts in open rebellion 
against God. Eternal Law would then be 
admitting and permitting something like 
anarchy into a law-ordered world. 

And so with death. If we knew the hour 
of our death, and the manner of it, we might 
be minded to say: " So soon! Then of what 
avail, if the time be so short, to continue in 
our labors?" and work, precious in God's 
sight and precious to our fellows, might be 
abandoned. Many a great teacher — then at 
his wisest and ripest in thought and experi- 
ence — has given us of his best in the last year 
of his life. So, too, has many a worker, man 
of science, and inventor, who has died sud- 
denly, it may be in his prime. 

There is a graver possibility. Could we 
foresee God's decree in regard to our death, 
the more rebellious of us might, deliberately 



U SPIRITUAL HOUSEBREAKING 

and defiantly, cast about for some means 
whereby to defeat God's will and God's 
decree — and again, in our intention at least, 
there would be anarchy. 

If, therefore, in this life which we do know, 
we can see that the knowledge which is with- 
held from us, is withheld for loving and wise 
reasons, can we not equally believe that in 
withholding from us the knowledge of what 
is to happen after death, God is actuated only 
by equal forethought and care for our happi- 
ness? Even a spiritualist can hardly deny 
that in life the future appears to be of set 
purpose hidden from us. Is he then acting 
in accordance with the Will of God in seeking 
to force a door which God has closed? 

If Lazarus, if our risen Lord had told what 
they beheld beyond that door, some record of 
what they said there would surely be. Of 
such record we have no word. On that sub- 
ject, God as revealed in Christ, and man, as 
represented by the one man known to us to 



SPIRITUAL HOUSEBKEAKING 15 

whom some glimpse, at least, of what lies be- 
yond death had been permitted, are silent. 
Can any one who accepts Christ go with easy 
conscience to spiritualism to tell him of mys- 
teries upon which the lips of both our Lord 
and Lazarus are sealed? One cannot believe 
that Lazarus went all unquestioned; and had 
he made a statement of any sort, that state- 
ment would — in view of the tremendous 
religious and human importance of the sub- 
ject — surely have been recorded. But Laz- 
arus is silent as his Lord is silent, and their 
silence seems to me a tacit condemnation of 
what goes by the name of spiritualism. 



II 

A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 

T N the previous section I have given what 
•*• I hold to be a weighty reason for standing 
aloof from the movement known as spiritual- 
ism, for believing that, as practiced to-day, it 
comes under the catalogue of things for- 
bidden. 

Before advancing other reasons, I will re- 
late my one and only spiritualistic experience. 

I was at the time a young fellow living in 
the old home with my dear and honored 
father. It was science not literature which I 
hoped to follow as a calling. All my inclina- 
tions lay that way, and my reading and 
research were almost entirely concerned with 
science and natural history. In England, 
however — it is not so in France or Ger- 
many — science offers small chance to make a 

16 



A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 17 

living, and as my living I had to make, I was 
trying my hand at the writing of stories for 
the magazines. One afternoon I wrote a 
short tale at a sitting, and, being tired, threw 
down my pen and left the upstairs room 
allotted to me as a " study." In the hall I 
found my father putting on hat and coat. 
He told me that he had been invited by a cer- 
tain Madame Ourry to be present at a seance 
to witness for himself something of lier son- 
in-law's mediumistic powers. He added that 
he had small taste for such matters, but when 
invited, as a man of science (he was a mem- 
ber of several learned societies) , to investigate 
the facts, he did not like to refuse. 

I asked and obtained permission to accom- 
pany him. The seance commenced, the rest 
of the company consisting of Madame Ourry, 
her son-in-law the medium, and three other 
persons, all men, unknown to us. First came 
a semi-religious service. Then, in a darkened 
room we all sat around a very substantial 



18 A PEKSONAL EXPEKIENCE 

table on which we were instructed to place 
our hands. 

Soon, manifestations of the wearisomely 
familiar type, common to so many seances 
then and now, began. 

The table began to move, slowly and un- 
steadily at first, then twisting, turning, cant- 
ing up at one end, the movements becoming 
increasingly violent, until at last I was re- 
minded, by the way in which it bumped under 
our hands, of a bucking horse trying to throw 
a rider. Other pieces of furniture were now 
moving, strange and uncanny lights ap- 
peared, a concertina played by invisible hands 
circled about the room in the air, and thumps, 
rappings and crashes as if the wainscoting 
within the walls of the room were falling, 
became frequent. 

Then a voice which I believe to have been 
the medium's inquired, "Who is the strikingly 
distinguished-looking man with the nobly 
formed head? " 



A PEKSONAL EXPEKIENCE 19 

This referred to my father, and as I do not 
resemble him in the least, I may be permitted 
to say that the description was not inac- 
curate. 

Why the question should have been asked 
I do not know. A spirit so well informed (as 
will be seen directly) about events in my own 
home must surely already have known who 
the sitter in question was. I can only sup- 
pose that my father's name was asked for the 
benefit of the three persons present who were 
unknown to him personally. 

In any case, the answer was, " That is Dr. 
James Kernahan." 

"And who," was tHe next question, " is the 
very young man next to him? " 

" That is his son " 

" That young man/' was the next comment, 
" is possessed of extraordinary mediumistic 
powers. He can at any moment place him- 
self in instant and close communion with the 
spirit world, merely by an exercise of will, 



20 A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 

and without the interposition of a medium. 
I hope he will come here again and often. 
There are few things which we in the spirit 
world so much desire as to be in communica- 
tion with one with such spiritual possibilities 
as his." Then the voice seemed to be address- 
ing me directly. 

" You have," it said, " this afternoon fin- 
ished the writing of a story, to which you 
have given the name of ' Something like a 
Mystery/ " 

" That is so," I said, with surprise. 

" The story ridicules spiritualism, of which 
you will admit you know nothing. Do you 
not think you would have done better to 
have acquainted yourself with the facts be- 
fore ridiculing that of which you are igno- 
rant?" 

" Perhaps so," I said, " but I do not feel in 
the least guilty. All I tried to do was to 
please and amuse my editor and readers by 
making the yarn amusing." 



A PEESONAL EXPEKIENCE 21 

I record here that the spirit correctly 
stated certain facts known only to myself — 
for I had not mentioned the story or the title 
to a living soul. Personally I attach no im- 
portance whatever to the incident. The facts 
were necessarily within my own knowledge 
and came to the knowledge of the medium 
merely by thought reading. 

The spirit then made certain general com- 
munications to the company of which, as the 
same thing has been said over and over again, 
and is repeated to-day, I need not write at 
length. 

As I understood these communications, the 
spirit world consists of a series of spiritually 
graduated circles or planes. A soul on leav- 
ing this world enters either a lower or a higher 
plane or circle, according to the degree of 
that soul's spirituality — passing thence when 
fitted to take higher place. Those who, on 
leaving this life, are of the earth, earthy, re- 
main, at their passing, and for the necessary 



22 A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 

time, at least, in the lower or more earthy 
circle. Retaining, as they do, their per- 
sonality and characteristics, their interests at 
first are with this world, their affections are 
for the most part, to use a word once common 
in the theological schools, " carnal," and until 
they have been purged of grossness, have 
been taught and trained in spirituality, they 
are unfitted directly to break with their old 
life. 

Hitherto, so far from being awed or im- 
pressed, I was in the main only amused. By 
the gymnastic performances of the furniture, 
the concertina playing and the like I was un- 
moved, and for that reason I could not under- 
stand how it came about that I was trembling 
violently in body and limb. I said as much 
to the medium. 

" You have told me," I said, " certain facts 
known only to myself — that I have just fin- 
ished a story and the title of that story which 
you have given correctly. As you know so 



A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 23 

much about me, you possibly know that I am 
in no physical fear. Why is it that I am, 
involuntarily so far as I know, trembling 
violently? " 

" You are trembling," came the instant re- 
ply, " because we are taking from your body 
the powers, energies or forces by which it is 
possible to manifest ourselves." 

"Can you manifest yourself?" I asked. 
" Is it possible for me actually to see you with 
my own eyes? " 

Then from an entirely different direction 
and from the end of the room farthest from 
the medium, came an entirely different voice. 
Apparently the speaker was taking upon 
himself to answer for and instead of the 
medium. 

First I was told that any such manifesta- 
tion was unusual and difficult in the presence 
of one who was attending a seance for the 
first time. In my case, however, the mani- 
festation was possible. I was, moreover, in- 



24 A PEKSONAL EXPEKIENCE 

formed that if I wished to see some one 
actually known to me, who had " passed 
over," and if I would indicate who that some 
one was to be, it would be possible for me at a 
second sitting actually to see and to speak 
with the person so indicated. But the spirit 
presence very earnestly warned me never to 
take part in spiritualistic matters of any sort 
again. I cannot say that the warning was 
actually against the danger of lying spirits, 
although the point that there are dishonest 
and lying spirits was very strongly made. I 
was told that the whole thing would be for 
me, constituted as I am, highly injurious 
both mentally and physically. 

Very few words were spoken, but they were 
spoken with intense earnestness. 

Then, directly in front of me, and over the 
table around which we sat, there appeared a 
strange luminosity, out of which looked a 
singularly beautiful and sensitive face. It 
was a face entirely unknown to me, but with 



A PEESGNAL EXPEEIENCE 25 

an extraordinary resemblance to the poet 
Heine, of whose work I have always been a 
student, and whose grave in Paris, as well as 
his home in Paris where he died, I had re- 
cently visited. At the time of the seance no 
thought of Heine was in my mind, unless sub- 
consciously, which is, of course, possible. 

Under high, wide, nobly-formed brows, 
eyes deep set, penetrating yet tender, looked 
into mine. The face was Jewish (Heine was 
a Jew), but Grecian in moulding, with 
straight aquiline, close-nostrelled nose, and 
firm-set but finely curved lips. To complete 
the likeness to Heine, there was about the 
chin just such a short, slight, and crisply 
curling beard as is seen in the existing por- 
traits. The trembling of my body and limbs 
of which I have spoken had ceased, and in its 
stead was a strange sense of rest, well-being 
and tranquillity. 

I am not ashamed to say that I was now 
held and possessed, almost dazed, with such 



26 A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 

wonder and awe, that I do not, with any cer- 
tainty, know what was my reply. I believe — 
I cannot honestly say more — that I expressed 
my thanks for the warning, and asked whether 
I might not know by whom I was warned. 
All I remember with certainty is that the 
spirit presence made some slow motion of 
dissent by slightly moving the head — and was 
gone. 

I hasten to add that the face was seen, the 
voice and the words were heard, not only by 
me but by all of those present, including my 
father. Otherwise I should have believed 
then and should believe now that the face I 
saw was some memory-picture of Heine, 
seen, as upon stilled waters on the mirror of 
my own mind, and thence projected, sub- 
consciously, or all unconsciously, upon the 
darkness. 

Whether what we saw and heard were the 
result of hypnotic suggestion, as seems to me 
possible, the reader must decide for himself. 



A PEKSONAL EXPEKIENCE 27 

In that case it is curious that at the same 
seance I should first be urged to come again, 
and later be earnestly warned never to take 
part in spiritualistic matters more. 



Ill 

SOME COMMENTS ON MY FIRST 
STANCE 

[" HAVE related as fully and as accurately 
A as I can remember the story of my first 
and last seance. I now offer some observa- 
tions on the same. 

If spiritualism be what spiritualism claims 
to be, then the very reverse of what was to be 
expected after death seems to happen. We 
think of death as the setting free of the soul 
from the trammels of the body and of the 
material world. Judging by what one reads 
of seances, we are, after death, more depend- 
ent than in life upon the material world. In 
life it is possible for one human soul unaided 
to go out to another in sympathy and love. 
If spiritualism be true, one appears to need, 

after death, the intervention of tables, chairs, 

28 



COMMENTS ON MY FIEST STANCE 29 

planchettes and the like to establish spiritual 
relations. We do not shake off the old 
shackles, but submit ourselves to those which 
are new and equally substantial. 

Moreover, we think of death as adding to 
our vision, our knowledge and our powers. 
Whatever spiritualism has to impart — and in 
all my spiritualistic reading I am not aware of 
having added one single worth-while item to 
my stock of knowledge — is surely balanced by 
that of which spiritualism appears to deprive 
us. It appears to deprive what was once 
a thinking, reasoning, imaginative man or 
woman of all that made for initiation, imagi- 
nation, originality. Spiritualism claims to be 
a new revelation. Could anything be less 
novel, less original, or less of a revelation than 
these repetitions of table turnings, automatic 
writing, guessing at the contents of a bag or 
box, vanishing and reappearing persons, of 
which we read to weariness? 

So far from uplifting and developing 



30 COMMENTS ON MY FIRST SfiANCE 

human personality, spiritualism seems to level 
all personalities down to one commonplace 
type. The singular family likeness which 
exists between so-called spirits gives one 
cause sometimes to wonder whether what 
claims to be the spirit world is not merely a 
series of multiple personations by some half- 
dozen performers, all under one stage man- 
agement? Or, to vary the figure of speech, 
is what we are asked to believe is the immortal 
army of the dead — now employed partly in 
sending signals to assure us, who are holding 
the trenches of this earthly life, of our coming 
relief — is all this no more than the misleading 
pranks of a few straying Puck-like spiritual 
camp-followers and hangers-on, at mischief 
in the No Man's Land which lies between this 
world and the next? 

One other point I note. I have spoken of 
pranks, and I used the word intentionally, but 
in these pranks there is no glimpse of that gift 
of God, as I hold it, a happy sense of humor. 



COMMENTS ON MY FIKST STANCE 31 

I do not for an instant imply that one looks 
for anything humorous in spirit revelations 
of the next world, though I see no reason why 
those who in this world have the happy gift 
of sunny humor should lose that gift in the 
next, any more than that little children should 
there cease to laugh, even to play. What I 
mean is this — the fact that spiritualists should 
seriously and solemnly put these senseless 
pranks on record and expect us to receive 
these records seriously and solemnly, as proofs 
of the genuineness of spiritualism, seems to 
indicate that, though spiritualism does not 
deprive its votaries of the luxury of a spiri- 
tual cigar (according to Sir Oliver Lodge), 
it does seem to destroy any latent sense of 
humor which they once had. 

Against the theory of the ascent of souls, 
onwards and ever onwards, towards perfec- 
tion, I have nothing to say, except that it is 
no new discovery, still less a revelation. Any 
one might evolve as much out of his own 



32 COMMENTS ON MY FIEST STANCE 

imagination, with the assistance of scientific, 
and perhaps even of scriptural suggestions. 
Failing these he might find most of it, and 
more, in Swedenborg. 

Nor is it without a note of warning directed 
against spiritualism. Even spiritualists ad- 
mit that some of the so-called spirit presences 
are those of lying spirits. If it be true, as 
we are told, that grosser spirits remain, as it 
were, just on the other side of the partition 
between this world and the next, and in touch 
with the old life, while holier souls pass on 
and upward to higher and holier spiritual 
spheres — here is further testimony to the wis- 
dom of God in forbidding, as some of us be- 
lieve He has forbidden, any attempt to enter 
into communication with the dead. Here, 
too, is some explanation, not only of what is 
gross and false in spiritualism — coming, as it 
would thus appear to come, from gross and 
untrustworthy sources, but also some explana^ 
tion of the sterility of spiritualistic teaching. 



COMMENTS ON MY FIEST STANCE 33 

The low-grade spirits have in effect nothing 
as yet to teach, hence the meaningless and 
uninforming communications. 

Of the strange things that happened at my 
first and last seance I express no opinion; I 
offer no explanation. But I believe that the 
time is not far distant when much in these 
so-called occult mysteries — spiritualism, clair- 
voyance, hypnotism and the like — will be 
found to be due to laws of which our knowl- 
edge is now imperfect. Things spiritual (in 
the true, not merely in the technical meaning 
of the spiritualists) are everywhere regulated 
by laws. These laws may be superhuman in 
the sense that they are, as yet, beyond human 
knowledge, but it does not in the least follow 
that they are undiscoverable or supernatural. 
Just as, having expected such a discovery for 
years, I was in no way surprised by the com- 
ing of wireless telegraphy — a much more 
marvellous discovery than anything that spiri- 
tualism can claim to have made — so I am 



34 COMMENTS ON MY FIEST SEANCE 

prepared for many amazing, even marvellous 
discoveries concerning the mystery of human 
personality. These discoveries will, as I say, 
explain much that is at present unexplain- 
able, but they will come to us legitimately, as 
the result of human progress and endeavor 
along God's open and daylit highway to 
knowledge, and so with God's sanction. They 
will not, I believe, come to us as the result 
of spiritualistic manifestations, in darkened 
rooms, nor by any rite or mystery of occult- 
ism. But that even to science, much less to 
spiritualism or to occultism, will be given to 
throw open the door between this world and 
the next, I do not believe. 



IV 

TELEPATHY 

TV TAN Y who essay to meddle witK spiri- 
-***-*■ tualism do so, in the first instance, 
merely out of curiosity. They begin as the 
drug-taker begins, " just for once," to see 
what the effect is like, and to experience a new 
sensation. But as in the case of the drug- 
taker, they do not always stop there. I am 
not sure, indeed, that the contemporaneous 
revivals of the spiritualistic habit and the 
drug habit may not pathologically come un- 
der the same diagnosis. Both may be the 
result of war reaction, the craving for some 
new excitement, or some new narcotic to dis- 
tract attention from jarred and overstrung 
nerves. Both seem to me injuriously to 

affect the judgment. 

35 



36 TELEPATHY 

Some are led to seek spirit help because 
of bereavements which call only for our ten- 
der pity. They affirm that they have found 
consolation there. I do not doubt that they 
so believe, and should anything which I have 
written here give pain or rouse anger, I can 
only express my sorrow and plead that I 
write in absolute sincerity. They have made 
choice of the source to which to go for con- 
solation, and since one danger of spiritualism 
appears to me to be that those who have once 
entered upon it seldom turn back, it were idle 
to say more. For I admit that though I know 
of converts to spiritualism, I do not know of 
any who, having entered upon that road, have 
turned back. 

Spiritualists may point to this as proof of 
the justice of their claims, as the triumph of 
progress and truth over ignorance and reac- 
tion. I attribute the fact in question to 
quite other causes. Spiritualism, once yielded 
to, appears to possess and to obsess mortals, 



TELEPATHY 37 

very much as evil spirits so possessed and ob- 
sessed men and women as recorded in the 
Scriptures. It seems in some way to un- 
balance the judgment, to blind the inner eye, 
in spiritual matters at least. Hence a calm 
unbiased reconsideration of its claims seems 
beyond spiritualists. 

Spiritualists see testimonies to the truth 
of spiritualism where some of us see only 
telepathy. I do not deny the marvellous ele- 
ment in telepathy, but when by research and 
the collection and collation of data, we have 
brought telepathy more nearly approximat- 
ing to an exact science, its marvels will no 
longer be exploited by the spiritualists and 
the occultists as a proof of their theories. Sir 
Arthur Conan Doyle is much impressed, and 
appears to expect the rest of us to be equally 
impressed, by the following incident, which 
I copy from a daily paper. 

He said that during the war he and his 
wife had a lady living with them who had the 



38 TELEPATHY 

gift of automatic writing. Three of Her 
brothers had been killed, and they used to 
come and write through her hand. 

Her fourth brother was a prisoner in 
Germany. 

"We asked one day/' Sir Arthur said, 
" ' What about Jack, will he escape? ' 

" ' Yes/ came the answer. 

" c How? ' was the next question. 

" c In a train/ was the reply/' 

About a year later he did escape, and Sir 
Arthur, before learning the particulars, wrote 
to him saying, " I believe I am right in say- 
ing you got away in a train/' He replied, 
" I don't know how you knew it, for I am the 
only British officer who did escape in a 
train." They had taken him to Silesia, and 
he had come across the whole of Germany 
concealed in a cattle truck. 

What do I say about this incident? Here 
is my answer: 

The living human Brain, which is of God's 



TELEPATHY 39 

making, is a much more wonderful instru- 
ment, and I believe has infinitely greater 
possibilities than Mr. Marconi's unalive 
mechanism (wonderful as that instrument is) 
for the sending or receiving of wireless mes- 
sages. The living element, the soul of Mr. 
Marconi's system, is that miraculous power, 
electricity, a power of God's not of Mr. Mar- 
coni's creating, and of which no mortal can 
claim to be the patentee. One day a scientific 
genius as great as Mr. Marconi may be telling 
us that the human brain is not only an electric 
battery with almost incalculable possibilities, 
but is also one of God's chief electric power 
or storage stations, and may tell us also how 
we may employ and direct the power therein 
stored, very much as we now employ and 
direct electricity. Then we shall all send, al- 
most without an effort, our wireless messages, 
the one to the other, all over tHe world. All 
that Mr. Marconi does is to send a thought 
across continents or across seas. It is the 



40 TELEPATHY 

thought, living and pulsing, which matters. 
The rest is, in a sense, mere contrivance for 
the sending. Our human thought is as much 
a miracle as electricity, and though the 
powers of thought are as yet undefined, we 
may yet discover that thought has equal 
possibilities. 

Even now some persons have the power 
(exerted, it may be, unconsciously) of send- 
ing messages. Here is a case in point. My 
wife's only son has been a soldier since 1914. 
When he was in France she suddenly said to 
me, one night, " George is in pain from burn- 
ing. It is his hand. If I put my hand even 
on a cold object, it is as if I had placed it on 
something almost red hot. He is not in 
danger, but he is in pain. I am sure of it. 
Will you remember that I have said this, and 
will you take a note in writing of the date and 
the time? " I did so, and when next we heard 
from France, it was to tell us that a lamp had 
overturned, causing a fire, in the putting out 



TELEPATHY 41 

of which George had burned both Hands 
badly. His mother wrote asking the day and 
the hour. They coincided exactly with the 
day and the hour in which she experienced a 
sudden feeling of burning on both hands. 

This is more marvellous than Sir Arthur 
Conan Doyle's story, for here the message 
came direct and without the automatic writing 
apparatus. Sir Arthur's anecdote has no 
value as a proof of spiritualism. 



THE BARRENNESS OF 
SPIRITUALISM 

TVTON-CHRISTIAN spiritualists of my 
•*• ^ acquaintance, while denying the reality 
of the always morally beautiful and spiri- 
tually significant miracles recorded in the 
New Testament, ask me to believe in spiri- 
tualism on the strength of manifestations 
which they appear to think scarcely less 
miraculous. 

" There was nothing that happened in 
Judsea two thousand years ago," says Sir 
Arthur Conan Doyle, " that cannot occur 
in London to-day." I very much question 
whether our Lord wrought miracles merely 
as a concession to the craving after a sign. 
He rebuked, indeed, a sign-seeking genera- 
tion as evil and corrupt. Small wonder that 

42 



THE BARRENNESS OF SPIEITUALISM 43 

spiritualism of to-day, which appeals, not to 
the soul that was breathed into us by our 
Maker, but to the senses and to the flesh, in a 
word to the clay out of which what is bodily 
in us was fashioned, and to which what is 
bodily shall one day return — small wonder 
that it has so little to say of Christianity. A 
spiritualism which depends for proof not 
upon change of heart but upon changes in the 
position of furniture seems to me no " new 
revelation/' but something of ancient super- 
stition, something not very far removed from 
the wonder-workings of tKe old magicians as 
well as from the African medicine man of 
more recent times, and the Indian Fakir of 
to-day. 

" But these manifestations," says some 
spiritualist, "by means of material objects, are 
merely our initial or Kindergarten methods 
of instructing, such as you would yourself 
employ in teaching children. We soon pass 
on thence to higher things." 



U THE BARRENNESS OF SPIRITUALISM 

We instruct our children by no such 
methods of mysteries and manifestations, and 
those whom you thus instruct are not chil- 
dren but educated women and men. But 
putting the question of Kindergarten meth- 
ods aside entirely and turning instead to the 
professors and high priests of spiritualism, 
what, I ask, has it told us which is in any 
sense of the word a discovery? What is not 
taken from Swedenborg, as most of it is, is no 
more an addition to our actual knowledge 
than the speculations and deductions of 
writers like Elizabeth Stuart Phelps of The 
Gates Ajar fame or the anonymous author 
of Letters from Hell. In fact an author of 
imaginative gifts, or with any quality of 
" vision," might give the world a much more 
convincing and in all probability much truer 
conception and picture of life after death 
than anything which has been told us by 
spiritualism. 

Claiming as it does to be a great move- 



THE BAEEENNESS OF SPIEITUALISM 45 

merit, the surprising thing about modern 
spiritualism is that it has no literature worthy 
of the name. Swedenborgianism and mys- 
ticism have their great exponents in both 
poetry and prose. Spiritualism has not added 
a line to what is accounted literature. Even 
the few distinguished men and women of 
letters who have joined its ranks seem, when 
they write on spiritualism, to be other and 
less than themselves. The most surprising 
" discovery," the only discovery that recent 
spiritualism has made, is the " discovery " of 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Oliver 
Lodge as spiritualists! 

I say this in no sneering sense in regard to 
the bearers of these distinguished names. 
Mistaken though we believe both men to be, 
one cannot deny that here at least spiritualism 
stands well before the world. For the rest, I 
have for more than forty years heard spiri- 
tualism discussed and have read the reports of 
seances. I am, it is true, no more than an 



46 THE BARRENNESS OF SPIRITUALISM 

" onlooker," of whom the proverb tells us that 
he sees most of the game, but what I read of 
spiritualism to-day seems to me at least very 
little different from what I heard and read 
when I was a very young man. It seems to 
me to move only in, and never out of a circle, 
and that we might as well hope to journey to 
the stars, or to trace their orbits by riding in 
some country fair or village "roundabout," as 
hope by means of spiritualism to wrest from 
Omnipotence the secrets which Omnipotence 
has wisely withheld. Compared with the 
revelations of the New Testament, compared 
even with the revelation of God in nature — 
the sea, the dawn, the midnight sky — spiritu- 
alism seems to me not far removed from the 
same village fair — belabored drum, smoking 
and flaring naphtha lights and all — of which 
I have just spoken. And this is the new re- 
ligion which has given the Christian Churches 
notice to come to Heel or to quit ! Sir Arthur 
Conan Doyle is reported to have said: u If 



THE BARRENNESS OF SPIRITUALISM 47 

the Church accepted the doctrines of spiritu- 
alism, it would get fresh dynamic power 
which would carry on Christianity. If it did 
not, it was doomed." 

Does not such an assertion as this — re- 
membering that a Christian Church there has 
been for two thousand years, and that " spir- 
itualism " dates back some odd sixty or sev- 
enty years — remind one less of a " New 
Revelation " than of the nouveauoo riches? 

What has spiritualism done for the better- 
ment of humanity in this world, whatever 
may be the light which it pretends to throw 
upon the next? Can Sir Arthur point to 
one single charitable institution run by spir- 
itualists, a hospital, a home for the old, the 
infirm, the poor, or the afflicted, such as 
the Churches have built and organized by 
the thousand, and are to-day engaged in 
carrying on? 

Spiritualism has claimed St. Paul, of all 
others — between whose teaching and the 



48 THE BARRENNESS OF SPIRITUALISM 

teaching of spiritualism the issue is clear. If 
St. Paul's words have any meaning, they 
seem to me directly to contradict the promises 
of spiritualism: " Eye hath not seen, nor ear 
heard, neither have entered into the heart 
of man, the things which God hath prepared 
for them that love Him" (1 Cor. ii. 9). 

Spiritualism has not hesitated to claim the 
Holiest Name known to us as that of a 
spiritualist. Yet the fact that I have noticed 
more than any other, in my spiritualistic 
reading, is that of that Name, the " Name 
which is above every name," there is scarcely 
ever a mention. 



VI 

SIN BEGINS IN WANT OF FAITH 

T AM sure that the lesson of the Garden of 
A Eden has a deep meaning for Christian 
people of to-day who allow themselves to be 
drawn into spiritualism, or are weakly drift- 
ing towards experimenting in it. For all that 
He has given us, God asks, in effect, only one 
spiritual gift in return — faith in His infinite 
goodness. With faith, if it be unswerving 
and sincere, as the first foundation of the 
Christian life, other things needful must 
inevitably follow. Faith is the first incentive 
to " works." Wholly to believe in, to trust, 
and to love God, implies serving God, doing 
the will of God. Works are the complement 
of faith, the other half as it were, and really 

as much a part of faith as the following of one 

49 



50 SIN BEGINS IN WANT OF FAITH 

footstep, after that which has just been put 
forward, is a necessary part of walking. To 
walk with God is to go forward in communion 
with God, following whither He leads, faith 
in Him, and love for Him in our hearts, one 
with Him in will, and so one with Him in 
readiness to take upon ourselves the work to 
which He points. Then we go forward. But 
it is by the firm foot of faith that we first step 
out, and when that is so, the foot of good 
works will not, cannot lag behind. But we 
must entertain no doubt or suspicion of our 
Leader. 

My fixed belief is that sin begins always 
in want of faith. Had Adam's faith been 
sufficient, he would not even have entertained 
the whispered word of distrust. He would, 
in righteous indignation, have cast it from 
him, as you or I would cast away and crush 
a viper which had crept into the folds of our 
garments. 

The first of all recorded sins was a thought 



SIN BEGINS IN WANT OF FAITH 51 

— a thought against God. From doubting 
God, the next, and easy, almost inevitable 
step, was an act of disobedience. I do not 
for an instant question the honesty or the 
sincerity of spiritualists, nor should I like to 
imply that for them there is sin in what they 
do. But I do say that for me, thinking as I 
do, and for the reader, if his or her views be, 
in the main, mine — to seek to pry into secrets 
which we believe God withholds from us is to 
listen to the whispered word which tempted 
Adam, with guilty conscience, to pluck and 
eat the fruit of the forbidden tree of the 
knowledge of Good and Evil. 

Spiritualism seems to me to begin in 
doubt and to end in disobedience. Again I 
say that, for all He has given us of good in 
this world, God asks, in effect, only one 
spiritual gift in return — faith in His infinite 
goodness. He asks, not for His sake, but for 
ours ; not to receive but to bestow. 

One of the most gifted and sweetest 



52 SIN BEGINS IN WANT OF FAITH 

women I have known was also the most un- 
happy. She had almost everything which 
makes for earthly happiness — she was loved, 
she was a wife and a mother, she had beauty 
and the health to enjoy the good things of 
lif e* friends, even fame, and ample means to 
follow her tastes and to gratify almost every 
wish. But she was without faith in God, and 
without faith, could not, constituted as she 
was, but be hopelessly unhappy. She did not 
wish to live, yet she feared terribly to die. 
She even sought solace in spiritualism, but it 
brought her none. It added to her unhappi- 
ness. She did not believe in it. On the 
contrary, her intellect unconditionally re- 
jected it. But it opened for her, she said, a 
fearful possibility. 

" Suppose there is a spirit world," she 
remarked. " Nothing that I have seen at 
seances brings the least conviction to that 
effect. But supposing there is a spirit world, 
it will be under the same executive as here, 



SIN BEGINS IN WANT OF FAITH 53 

the same administration, and I do not wish to 
be under that executive, that administration 
again. My one hope is in annihilation, utter 
and complete. Even of that I cannot be 
sure," and so once again she was miserable. 

God had given her so much to make her 
happy, and He asked only faith in His good- 
ness in return. But she refused, and so her 
whole life was doubt-haunted, despairing, and 
unutterably sad. With faith it would have 
been glad and happy. 

But there seems to me another and a far 
higher reason for faith in God than this. I 
believe that to trust God wholly is to gladden 
Him. To distrust is, in a sense, to pain Him. 
Who, even of us mortals, can feel ourselves 
regarded with suspicion and distrust without 
something like a stab at the heart? And 
spiritualism seems to me to begin in suspicion, 
either that there is no hereafter, or that in 
such hereafter as there is, all is not well. It 
will trust in itself, its own eyes, its own ears, 



54 SIN BEGINS IN WANT OF FAITH 

its own senses, but it will not trust in the 
honor of God ? and so dishonors Him before 
the world. 



VII 

A WILL O' THE WISP 

O OME time ago a stranger was brought by 
*^ a friend to call upon me. He had, it 
seemed, read certain writings of mine and was 
so good as to speak of them appreciatively. 

" But what I cannot understand/' he went 
on to say, " is that a man of your order of 
mind and your intelligence" (he was kind 
enough to be very complimentary) " should 
not long ago have risen superior " (that was 
his very word!) " to anything so impossible of 
comprehension, so childish and so supersti- 
tious as what is known as Christianity." 

Then — he was a theosophist, it appeared — 
he propounded, for my benefit, certain the- 
ories of his own. I recollect very little of 

them except that the words " Solar Logos," 

55 



56 A WILL 0> THE WISP 

"Astral Plane," and "Karma" frequently; 
occurred. They made enormous demands 
upon credulity and were labyrinthine in 
their complexity. How different from the 
Christian faith! — with meanings as profound 
as the thoughts of the Eternal One — and 
yet so simple that it can be comprehended 
by a little child. While refusing to believe 
that God, for man's sake, became Incarnate, 
my caller found no difficulty in believing in 
the countless and continued reincarnations of 
man. Laying his hand on my shoulder he 
said earnestly: 

" Believe me, it is the only answer to the 
Riddle of Life!" 

"Is it?" I said; "then I prefer the 
Riddle." 

And so with spiritualism. I would rather 
remain unenlightened on matters which God 
has hidden from us than seek or accept such 
sorry so-called enlightenment — and by such 
means — as spiritualism proffers. 



A WILL O' THE WISP 57 

Better, I honestly believe, blithely, bravely, 
and unselfishly, to continue in our appointed 
work, and on our way through God's world, 
striving daily and unceasingly to be truer 
friends, sounder citizens, harder workers, bet- 
ter Christians — and to ash no question what- 
ever of what comes after death, leaving all in 
perfect trustfulness in the hands of God — 
than to squander nerve power, will power, 
and energy in following after the will o' the 
wisp of spiritualism — the attempting, as it 
were, to strike damp matches, this side of a 
vast and deep and dark river, in the hope that 
thereby we may descry what lies, miles-far, 
beyond. To me it seems childish — worse still, 
cowardly, craven, unworthy of noble woman 
or true man. Death is a mystery and a men- 
ace, the last and supreme test of courage and 
faith in woman or man. Let us face this 
great ordeal of God's appointing in the con- 
fidence of Christian believers. The plunge 
once made into the river of death, we shall find 



'58 A WILL O' THE WISP 

God's hand in ours to uphold and to guide us 
across. And as we step out upon the farther 
bank to enter the City of Light, we know that 
the Lord and Saviour in Whom we have 
placed our faith will fling wide the golden 
portals of heaven, and welcome us to one of 
His many mansions with such radiant sur- 
prise of prepared bliss and rapture as no 
exiled and home-returning child of God has 
on earth ever known. Like the peace of God 
which passeth understanding, the rapture and 
the joy of that home-coming are here beyond 
our comprehension. 

Compared with that promise,^ and witK the 
holy calm of Paradise, in which for two thou- 
sand years Christians have pictured their 
sainted and beloved dead; compared, even, 
with a little child's dream-imaginings of a 
realm of flowers, of child-laughter, bird-song, 
and happy play — compared with these, spiri- 
tualism with its clumsy contrivances, its catch- 
words, and its gross promise of such comforts 



A WILL O' THE WISP 59 

as " spiritual cigars/' seems to me like an 
unseemly intrusion upon the sanctity, the 
august majesty, of which we are conscious 
in the presence of our dead. Spiritualism 
vulgarizes that which is holy, while adding 
to our knowledge no single word of real help 
or worth. 



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